Never Never Distilling Co. has collaborated with Asia’s most exciting new bar ARGO to create a new gin that redefines the world’s most famous cocktail.
The venue, situated at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong, aims to showcase “the future of drinking”, and Never Never’s newest Dark Series release, ARGO Gin, sits proudly as the bar’s house martini.
Described as a “marvel of traditional distillation methodology and modern technique”, the gin showcases several different styles of Chinese tea as the key botanical.
The project brought together ARGO’s Beverage Manager Lorenzo Antinori, Proof & Company’s Tom Egerton (who distributes Never Never throughout Asia), and the team at Never Never themselves, for what the latter’s Brand Director Sean Baxter describes as a “monumental task”.
The process was made all the more difficult by the border situation, with the team collaborating online over many months of back and forth spirit sampling.
“I mean, all we had to do was just make the perfect martini gin for Asia’s most anticipated bar opening, innovating the process and creating a spirit that redefines the idea of the world’s most famous cocktail, sure, no worries, piece of cake,” Baxter says, tongue firmly in cheek.
What’s special about ARGO Gin?
“We chose tea as a key botanical because the rituals associated with tea-brewing and service are similarly revered as the martini,” explains Baxter.
“These flavours have been a part of Chinese history for thousands of years, what better flavour to communicate a modern twist on such a revered classic.”
Using Never Never’s tried-and-tested Triple Juniper Process to amplify base notes of juniper and coriander seed, ARGO was first matured in locally sourced ex-Chardonnay barrels that were rapidly seasoned with Mancino Secco vermouth under vacuum.
The base gin was matured only for a short period with several fills being used in the final composition – ensuring that the aromatics of the gin were not dominated by oak character – and the individual distilled tea components were then blended into the matured spirit.
White tea was also used as a dilutive element, capturing a brewed component of the tea, before being filtered to remove colour and tannin and bringing the gin down to the correct alcoholic strength while adding more flavour.
“It is without doubt the most complex and innovative gin that we have made to date,” says Tim Boast, Never Never’s Head Distiller. “It truly embodies our focus on creating gins with flavour front of mind.”
Martini service at ARGO
At ARGO, the gin arrives at the table at -14 degrees and is served directly into a chilled glass tableside. An accompanying selection of two chilled seasonal hydrosols brings the martini up to the temperature and gives guests the choice of going in a savoury or citrus direction.
“We wanted to innovate a classic martini and took inspiration from some of the greatest martini bars in the world,” says ARGO Beverage Manager Lorenzo Antinori. “We decided to keep the spirit of ARGO gin untouched and transformed how we diluted the cocktail instead, something that hasn’t been done before in this format.
“Seasonal hydrosols create a theatre and sense of adventure for the guest when they order the drink, while creating a consistent flavour experience every single time.”
ARGO Gin has been produced in very limited quantities, though we’ve been assured that it will be available Down Under at a later date. Stay tuned.